In reviewing files sent to us, we see some misinterpretations of the law or expectations regarding what will happen at trial. We’ve battled in the courtroom a few times and have a few tips you should keep in mind regarding witnesses and defenses:
- Just because a person is riding in the car with the noninsured driver, doesn’t mean he will be a biased witness. His testimony at trial will be that of an eye witness to the event. He will be sworn in and agree to testify under oath, under the penalty of perjury. This is not something witnesses take lightly. The judge or jury will not assume that he is lying or that he is biased simply because he is riding in the car with the noninsured driver.
If you are involved in car accident litigation, don’t just assume if the noninsured driver has two passengers in his car that you should discount their testimony. And don’t assume what it would sound like for a judge or jury to hear their version of events supporting the noninsured driver.
- In Ohio, there is no duty to “maintain a proper lookout.” This implies that you should anticipate the negligence of another party. If a driver could anticipate another’s negligence, there would be no car accidents! If a car runs a red light, that driver is negligent and caused the accident. The other driver he hits while running the red light has no duty to anticipate that a car will run a red light, and no duty to drive in a manner such that he will be able to stop – just in case he encounters a negligent driver. Arguing that the noninsured driver has some proportion at fault for “failing to maintain a proper lookout” will not succeed at trial. The case law does not support this and it should not be a factor when evaluating a case.
- Similarly, there is no “last clear chance to avoid the accident” rule in Ohio. Again, this would require the noninsured driver to anticipate the negligence of another person while driving. That is not the legal standard in Ohio. At trial, we are required to prove the defendant was negligent. In other words, that he had a duty of reasonable care, that he violated that duty, and as a result, he caused damage. This last clear chance to avoid an accident would really be an argument of comparative fault.
Hope you enjoyed your cup of, “know your stuff.”